CANADIAN GUNFIGHT HEADED FOR DRAMATIC SHOWDOWN
GUNFIGHT HEADED FOR DRAMATIC SHOWDOWN
by Dr. Michael S. Brown
June 4, 2000
Americans breathed a sigh of relief this week as our national gun rights
debate took a break from the overheated rhetoric of recent months. Much needed
comic relief was provided by Rosie O'Donnell. The gun-hating talk show host
admitted that she is protected by bodyguards armed with guns.
Unfortunately, things are not going as well for our Canadian cousins. A
poorly crafted and mean spirited law called the Firearms Act (C-68) was forced
through Parliament in 1994 by the ruling Liberal Party. In an ugly example of
cultural warfare, the Liberals used falsified statistics to convince members of
Parliament that Canada was suffering from an epidemic of gun violence. The
result was a strict new law with Draconian penalties on gun owners.
The law passed in spite of the Justice Minister's inability to show that
Canada's previous sixty years of handgun registration had prevented any crimes.
The law has two major parts, which are very similar to proposals by the
American anti-gun lobby. The first phase requires all gun owners to obtain a
license. They must comply by the end of this year or face up to ten years in
prison. The second phase is the registration of all firearms, which must be
complete by January, 2003. Again, the penalty for violations is up to ten years
As a final insult to honest citizens, the type of handguns most suitable for
self defense are banned outright by C-68. Confiscation of these guns from law
abiding owners will be easy due to the existing registration system, but
criminals have never registered their guns and will not be affected. Apparently,
Canadian criminals have a more effective lobby than the gun owners.
The Liberal sponsors of the law estimated start-up costs for the new system
would be under 85 million dollars. So far, it has consumed over 300 million and
massive annual operating costs are being predicted. Over 1,400 government
workers have been assigned to the project. Despite this commitment of resources,
the system is plagued by long delays and error rates as high as 90% have been
reported by outside analysts.
Even if Canadian gun owners were planning to cooperate, the size and
complexity of the task would be overwhelming. The gun owners, however, are not
cooperating. Only 10% have turned in the lengthy application forms and many have
announced that they will never comply with such an unfair law.
The Law-abiding Unregistered
Firearms Association (www.lufa.ca) is planning organized civil disobedience.
This new organization has grown from nothing to 16,000 members since it was
founded in November of 1998. Their plan is to wait until the first gun owner is
charged with failing to obey the new law. Then, tens of thousands of gun owners
will present themselves at RCMP stations across Canada and announce that they
are in violation of C-68.
Perhaps the Liberal politicians will send them all off to prison, but harsh
action would harm the warm fuzzy image the party wants to project. There is a
good chance the whole licensing scheme will collapse as firearms cases clog the
courts and cost the Liberals their majority in Parliament. This is not certain,
as they are masters at generating public support.
One Clintonesque tactic takes advantage of the fact that many license
applications are rejected due to errors. The Liberals claim this represents the
number of "potential criminals" who have been denied access to
firearms as a result of the wonderful new law. They are obviously borrowing this
tactic from the U.S. administration which has made similar false claims for the
Another useful gambit takes advantage of any change in the crime rate. If
crime decreases, the Liberals will say that this proves the effectiveness of gun
control and ask for even stricter anti-gun laws. If crime increases, they can
say that the current law is inadequate and will still have a reason to ask for
stricter laws. They probably think they can't lose.
The Canadian Supreme Court may invalidate the law. If not, a moment of
reckoning will occur sometime after January 1, 2001. Americans could learn a lot
from this episode, but our media has historically ignored both Canadian affairs
and anything that shows the failure of gun control. A priceless lesson is likely
to be wasted.
Dr. Michael Brown is an optometrist who moderates an email list for
discussion of gun issues in Washington state. He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
or through his web site at: http://www.geocities.com/rkba2000.
Several of Dr. Brown's articles are also hosted on this web site, by clicking here.